Happy 50th Birthday to a Brother Who Died Long Ago


August 7, 2012

Today my brother Kevin would have turned 50. Killed in a car accident at age 23, Kevin has been dead longer than he lived.

In 23 years, he did a lot of living. Since he would have been 50, here are 50 things I remember about my brother. They are a random set of remembrances, most from me, some passed along over the years from relatives and friends. Together, they may give others a sense of the young man, teenager, and boy he was.

Scheduling Remembrance: Sometimes Life Gets in Way

I grew up ignorant of the structure my religion offers mourners. Singing in temple choirs and attending Shabbat services gave me my first lessons about Jewish remembrance. I noticed the people who stood to hear the names of those they had lost – spouses, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. Today, I am no longer so ignorant of my faith’s rituals. But, I confess, it’s not always easy to stop life and remember. Continue reading

Dressing Torah Brings Me Closer to Faith on Shavuot


June 8, 2011

“Slowly. You don’t have to rush it,” the rabbi said. I was trying to quickly tie a bow on the belt wrapped around the Torah.

My rabbi, Howard Jaffe of Temple Isaiah in Lexington, Mass., held his finger in the center of the string to assist. Bow-tying is a weakness of mine. I tie shoelaces by forming two bunny ear loops. I tied the strings and reminded myself to breathe. I was not on stage. I was in the chapel of my temple during the morning Shavuot … Continue reading

Cemeteries bloom in the spring, but who visits?


Cemeteries are designed to be beautiful, peaceful places. Yet, how many of us return to visit a loved one’s grave? Some people are cemetery visitors, and some are not, a rabbi told me recently.

Today, as I began some revisions on my memoir about grief and faith, I thought a lot about Rose Hill Cemetery in Chicago where my brother is buried. It is a strikingly beautiful place with ponds and century-old trees. Geese and ducks flock there. I have been there a handful of times since 1986, the year my … Continue reading